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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: December ::
Re: *The Spanish Tragedy*
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1252.  Tuesday, 23 December 1997.

[1]     From:   Karen Krebser <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Dec 1997 09:23:18 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1251 Q: *The Spanish Tragedy*

[2]     From:   Bradley S. Berens <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Dec 1997 09:26:26 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1251  Q: *The Spanish Tragedy*

[3]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Dec 1997 18:39:27 +0000
        Subj:   SHK 8.1251  Q: *The Spanish Tragedy* -Reply

[4]     From:   Ivan Fuller <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Dec 1997 14:09:05 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1251  Q: *The Spanish Tragedy*

[5]     From:   Virginia Byrne <
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        Date:   Monday, 22 Dec 1997 16:24:25 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1251  Q: *The Spanish Tragedy*

[6]     From:   An Sonjae <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Dec 1997 08:47:14 +0900 (KST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1251  Q: *The Spanish Tragedy*

[7]     From:   Peter Hillyar-Russ <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 23 Dec 1997 11:58:20 -0000
        Subj:   The Spanish Tragedy


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Krebser <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Dec 1997 09:23:18 -0800
Subject: 8.1251 Q: *The Spanish Tragedy*
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1251 Q: *The Spanish Tragedy*

I don't know of any productions of "The Spanish Tragedy." However, the
American Conservatory Theater (San Francisco, CA) put on "The Duchess of
Malfi" a few years back that was quite controversial
(bondage-domination-sadomasochism [BDSM] symbolism all over the place
[plus some actual bondage, if I remember rightly], and blood and guts
everywhere). However, despite all that, I think it had a good run, and
was well reviewed and received (although playgoers were advised to bring
their own barf bags).

Karen Krebser

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bradley S. Berens <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Dec 1997 09:26:26 -0800
Subject: 8.1251  Q: *The Spanish Tragedy*
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1251  Q: *The Spanish Tragedy*

Greetings all!

Carl Fortunato asks after any recent productions of THE SPANISH TRAGEDY.

I greatly enjoyed the RSC's production last summer in Stratford: it made
Quentin Tarantino look like Walt Disney.  It was bloody, violent, and a
lot of fun.

Detailed reviews should still be readily available from the London
papers.

        Best,
        Bradley Berens

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Dec 1997 18:39:27 +0000
Subject: Q: *The Spanish Tragedy* -Reply
Comment:        SHK 8.1251  Q: *The Spanish Tragedy* -Reply

Carl Forunato asked:

>Does anybody know of any recent productions of Kyd's *The Spanish
>Tragedy*?

The RSC is about to open it in London.  I only saw one review from
Stratford.  It was laudatory.

I did see it at the NT, before it was the RNT, a dozen or more years
ago.  They kept Revenge on stage it at all times.  That is the only
liberty I can recall.  The casting of the minor parts was week.  They
copped out it at the end.  When Heironimo asked for a knife to sharpen
his quill, they gave it to him, as they must, but the actor's threw up
their hands and spoke in a funny voice as if to indicate they knew they
were doing something stupid.  I don't like it when actors signal a flaw
in a script.  Better to cover it over and hope the audience doesn't
notice.  Or produce a different script.

Michael Bryant and Greg Hicks were superb.

>And is there any audience for Elizabethan plays that *aren't* by
>Shakespeare or Marlowe?

There is in the Swan Theatre.  Berkeley Rep did a bizarre Volpone about
5 years ago that was well received and well attended.

Best,
Mike Jensen

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ivan Fuller <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Dec 1997 14:09:05 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 8.1251  Q: *The Spanish Tragedy*
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1251  Q: *The Spanish Tragedy*

I directed a college production of THE SPANISH TRAGEDY last May here at
Augustana College.  We did the show ala Shenandoah Shakespeare Express
(i.e. using the original Elizabethan staging conventions).  I had high
hopes for the piece going into it.  It's full of dramatic flair and
tension and I believe that the story itself holds interest.  Where our
production ran into trouble was with a very inexperienced cast.  I
basically had to cast the 12 people I had audition, consequently, there
was a very wide range of talent up there.  Still in all, it was
certainly worth doing and I would encourage others to take a serious
look at it.

We were able to perform the show with very few cuts right at two hours.
A cast of ten played all the roles except for Revenge and Andrea.
Costuming had an almost punk look to them, bringing to mind images of
CLOCKWORK ORANGE during some of the more violent scenes.

Good luck with the tongue scene if you do it in a thrust configuration.
We solved it, but it took a lot of experimenting.

Ivan Fuller, Chair
Communication & Theatre Dept.
Augustana College

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Virginia Byrne <
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Date:           Monday, 22 Dec 1997 16:24:25 EST
Subject: 8.1251  Q: *The Spanish Tragedy*
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1251  Q: *The Spanish Tragedy*

The RRC did the Spanish Tragedy in conjunction with their Hamlet this
summer..really are a lot of reasons why to do the two together..yes it
really held...all that gore...put Arnold Schwartzennager (sp?) to
shame....you can find similar passages in both.(Kyd and Shak..not
Schwartz...).interesting to find the similarities between the two
writers and the way WS took it all and rose above it...can be
exciting..also Beatrice from their much Ado played the female lead..name
escapes me right now..that was WILD

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           An Sonjae <
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Date:           Tuesday, 23 Dec 1997 08:47:14 +0900 (KST)
Subject: 8.1251  Q: *The Spanish Tragedy*
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1251  Q: *The Spanish Tragedy*

As others will certainly tell you, the Royal Shakespeare Company staged
a new production of the Spanish Tragedy at the Swan Theatre in
Stratford-upon-Avon this summer. It was done with great gusto and gore
was oozing from every seam of most doublets by the end, while a large
lump of tongue littered the stage in what one might feel was an
unnecessary closeness to an obviously corrupted text. As the programme
points out, the play has almost never been produced professionally in
the present century; they list three British productions before this,
the first by the RSC. It was directed by Michael Boyd. At The Other
Place this summer I saw a most entertaining (?) production of Everyman.
Cymbeline at the main theatre was also a delight. The only
disappointment was the Hamlet, which I found quite dreadful, in
retrospect, especially the stage business with the gun, and the
soap-opera style plutocratizing of Claudius. I prefer ghosts on
battlements to phantoms in discos. Would it not be nice to see Gorboduc
taken seriously? And the translations/versions of Seneca ought to offer
some very good material for imaginative production.

An Sonjae
Sogang University, Seoul, Korea

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Hillyar-Russ <
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Date:           Tuesday, 23 Dec 1997 11:58:20 -0000
Subject:        The Spanish Tragedy

The Royal Shakespeare Company produced The Spanish Tragedy at Stratford
this year - it has now moved to their London house.

I saw it at Stratford where it was performed in the "Swan" auditorium -
their medium sized space with a thrust stage almost surrounded by two
tiers of wooden galleries, designed to house the works of Shakespeare's
contemporaries.

In my personal opinion it was the best of the season's RSC productions.
The staging was fairly simple, with basically Elizabethan costume. This
particular space allows characters to enter from a variety of doors and
pass through the audience to reach the stage, or to appear at various
places on the galleries, and this freedom was used to create a sense of
the persuasiveness of revenge; characters appeared and moved on in a
horrible cycle of revenge. In the end the Mystical, hooded, character of
"Revenge" - who had appeared in many different places to urge the other
characters on was revealed to have been played by the actor who played
Heironimo himself!

Kyd's language flowed well - there is not a lot of poetic imagery in the
play (is there any?) - but there was no sense of laboured dialogue. The
gruesome bits were duly gruesome, with a very realistic bit of tongue
landing on the stage a few inches from the knees of the front row
audience.

The play within the play was done in the various languages referred to
(but not preserved) in the surviving versions. The play text including
this polyglot version of the contained play was on sale in a modern
edition (by Nick Hern books)

I think the RSC were a little disappointed by the sales of tickets,
because the production really was excellent - but it was on during the
summer, competing with the utterly dreadful Hamlet in the Main House
(which everyone else enthuses about, but which I found less profound,
and almost as short, as the "Animated Tales" cartoon video). Stratford
survives on its tourist income, and tourists visiting Stratford on their
"holiday of a lifetime" will always pay for a bad Hamlet in preference
to an excellent production of a minor Elizabethan dramatist (even
Marlowe).

Peter Hillyar-Russ

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